The news of Carol Bartz nomination as Yahoo's new CEO did not cause too many jitters on the stock market although shares of the search company went down by nearly 1 percent while its main competitors, Google and Microsoft gained 0.5 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.
If she manages to become Yahoo's new Messiah, Bartz will certainly have achieved a feat unmatched by any other women in technology. However, there are a few (as usual we've rounded five) reasons why naming her might not be good enough to save the Yahoo ship from hitting the iceberg.
(1) Carol who?
Some could say that she is a spent force since stepping down as CEO of Autodesk in 2006. Forbes no longer lists her as one of the most powerful women in tech in their updated 2008 list while Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox and Safra Catz, President of Oracle are in the top 15.
(2) Different markets
Bartz gained her experience and kudos working at Autodesk, a software company whose flagship product is AutoCAD. The product is a $3995 purchase with 9 million users worldwide. Yahoo is a completely different firm in a vastly different environment. It is clear that she was not brought in because of her online credentials but more because she's a do-er, someone who can kick some a*r* around and make things move quickly. Yahoo is still the most visited website in the world and the hottest online property with more than 100 billion page views per month.
(3) The "Susan Decker" problem
Many could think that Susan Decker, Yahoo's ex-president, could have been a better CEO since she was with the company for almost nine years. The 46-year old Ms Decker, whom Valleywag once called "the humblest tech exec", had been groomed to be Yahoo's CEO for the past three years or so. Some inside the company could start "soldiering" against someone alien to Yahoo's culture, just like the human body may reject a liver transplant.
(4) The "Jerry Yang" Conundrum
Jerry Yang, Yahoo's Co-founder, has decided to step down and return to his position as "Chief Yahoo"; however it is unlikely that the pair will be as friendly as the other famous duo in the world of tech - Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates who stepped down as Microsoft CEO and created a "chief software architect" position. Ballmer and Gates knew each other for decades. Yang only knows Bartz through the seat he holds on Cisco's board together with Ms Bartz. Will there be a battle of two egos, made even more explosive by her straight, no frills, talk.
(5) Different Companies, different issues
Autodesk dominated a niche market even when Carol Bartz became their new chairman and chief executive. She was picked back in 1992 because she "had experience managing rapid growth". Another problem that she had to face was software piracy. A pirated CDROM could easily contain up to $1 million worth of illegal applications and plugins. Compare and contrast with Yahoo's issues. It is trying to reinvent itself, picking itself up and aiming to be a jack of all trade and master of all. Yahoo has acquired 56 companies over the last decade and has had huge issues trying to make the old bits working with the new ones.
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Carol Bartz will hit the ground running and will almost certainly be under intense scrutiny and immense pressure from day one. That said, we can only wish her luck and hope for the best. Yahoo is still one of the most loved internet brands and with Microsoft still lagging in third place, it has a unique opportunity to give Google a run for its money.
(All Things D)